Confessions from a Notre Dame Picker: How It All Went Wrong for Me and the Irish
I predicted that Notre Dame would beat Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Championship. There, I said. It feels good to get that off my chest.
The prediction is in print, it’s on video and it will never be erased. My call for a 21-20 game in Notre Dame’s favor is on the ol’ Internet for good. If you have rotten vegetables you want to throw at me—or perhaps an old refrigerator if you can lift it—now would be the time to toss in my direction.
Fair is fair.
Heading into this game, I thought the Notre Dame Fighting Irish would give the Alabama Crimson Tide a challenge on both sides of the ball. They didn’t. The 42-14 score says it all.
I thought Irish quarterback Everett Golson would handle the moment and be the X-factor Notre Dame needed. Although it wasn’t all his fault, he couldn’t get much of anything going throughout.
I thought Notre Dame’s impressive front seven would be able to handle the touted Alabama offensive line and keep running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon in check. This, more than anything, is where I missed, and Notre Dame looked like a different team defensively.
After giving up only two rushing touchdowns all season, Notre Dame gave up two on Monday night in the first 15 minutes and three seconds. In total, Brian Kelly’s impressive group gave up 529 yards. Yeldon and Lacy each went over 100 yards, and quarterback AJ McCarron flirted with perfection.
His 264 yards and four touchdowns led the way for Alabama, and on offense the team made it look easy. I watched McCarron struggle a bit down the stretch of the regular season and wondered how he’d handle this game and this defense. He answered that call emphatically.
Notre Dame did not.
For a team that rarely missed tackles during the regular season, the Irish looked like a shell of its regular-season self. The defensive line did what it could to cause havoc, but Alabama was that much better. Notre Dame had chances at stopping the running backs for a loss, but it couldn’t bring them down. Give Alabama credit for keeping these plays alive, of course, but this was not the defense I expected to see.
On offense, Notre Dame mustered up just 32 yards rushing on 19 carries. The Fighting Irish were one-dimensional from the start, and they had to stay one-dimensional after getting down a quick 21 points as the second quarter started.
The offensive line struggled at times, and Everett Golson never looked comfortable. He ended up throwing for 270 yards, but much of this production came when it was too late. And really it was too late far too early.
Notre Dame was overpowered and overmatched. The team, to be quite honest, looked like it didn’t belong. That’s not to say that the Fighting Irish didn’t deserve to be there, of course, but the gap in talent was apparent early on. This was ugly. This…was not the Notre Dame victory I predicted to say the least.
Looking back on the season, perhaps I should have gone with my first impression.
After Alabama dismantled Michigan 41-14 in the first week of the season, I left more than impressed with the Tide. In fact, my headline said it all.
A full college football season later, and here we are. The scores from the opener and closer are nearly identical, and I assume Nick Saban simply added on one point for style.
Crimson Tide football is indeed No. 1. The path to get there didn’t always go as planned, but it never does. Alabama is once again the proud owners of a crystal football, a spot the Crimson Tide have become quite familiar with.
This year’s team had a much different feel, and I had my doubts on how it would match up with Notre Dame. To win, however, I still said that Notre Dame would have to play its best game of the season—something I thought the Fighting Irish were more than capable of.
They played their worst.
Give credit to Alabama for doing what it does best. Physically dominating you until you want to tap out. That moment came early on for Notre Dame and also my prediction.
If you have any more rotten vegetables handy, you know what to do.
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